Frizz’s A-Z Archive: ‘B’ is for Blarney

Today, my attention was caught by Frizztext’s challenge on the letter ‘B’. I recently came across a photo of me taken a good many years ago on one of our visits to family in Ireland. Of course, one of the things which I absolutely had to do, was kiss the ‘Blarney Stone’ (Cloch na Blarna).

I’d heard and read so much about this block of bluestone, which in 1446, was built into the battlements of Blarney Castle near Cork. Kissing this stone is said to endow a person with the ‘Gift of the Gab’, which is the gift of eloquent speech, or the art of flattery or deception without causing offense. In order to touch the stone with one’s lips, it’s necessary to go to the very peak of the castle, and then lean over backwards on the parapet’s edge. Luckily for me, wrought iron guard rails and safety bars had been installed, but in the olden days, participants were just grasped by the ankles and dangled over the abyss. I don’t think I’d have been quite so keen, if that had been the case. I wouldn’t recommend this for anyone who is afraid of heights.

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To see more entries for Frizz’s challenge, just go here.

Wordless Wednesday: Let Sleeping Alligators Lie

Here is one of the highlights of our visit to the Wakodahatchee Wetlands on Monday afternoon. I suggested to hubby that as Mr. A seemed to be having a siesta, he could safely climb over the wooden fence to get a real closeup, but he didn’t think this was a great idea. What a spoilsport!

(You can click on the photo to see a larger image.)

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Taking the dog for a 'walk' in Manuel Antonio.

Taking the dog for a ‘walk’ in Manuel Antonio.

 

Momma, where’s our lunch?

After yesterday’s 3 hour exhausting rehearsal, hubby collected me and took me out to lunch. I was ravenous, and ordered something I’ve never ordered before; steak and eggs with sausage and bacon. It just jumped out of the menu at me.  I think the piano playing uses up a lot of energy, and I felt the need for lots of protein.

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After eating that lot, I decided that we should take a nice long walk in the fresh air, so off we went to the Wakodahatchee Wetlands nature reserve just up the road. I have so many wonderful pics of the wildlife we saw there, which I’ll post another time, but for now, here are two young  and hungry Anhinga chicks, impatiently waiting for their lunch. (You can click on the photos to enlarge.)

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“Where is our food?” they ask their momma who is watching over them.

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Then their dad arrives with something to satisfy their hunger, and the two chicks compete to see who can have the first taste.

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The bigger of the two eventually wins out, and gets to stick his beak right down dad’s gullet, whilst his sibling awaits his turn at the sushi trough.

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I was less than impressed after yesterday’s rehearsal. I’d spent hours sorting out sheet music and word sheets for everyone, as the organiser claimed to be not computer literate enough to do this. After hours of practising the songs, I was quite happy with the result of my labours, but as the rehearsal progressed, my happiness dissipated. The lovely lady singers were very enthusiastic, but a couple of the older guys are very hard to please. They said that they’d listened to the songs on you tube, and thought we should add more words to the songs, to make them longer, and they also wanted to change the endings of the songs, which confused everybody, including me. The organiser has enlisted the help of one of our community members who is a professional show director, and is presently working on a presentation of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ in a nearby town. He presented me with a whole sheaf of music score for the song, ‘Tradition’, which would take me weeks to work through. The pianist who is playing in his show, is an internationally renowned concert pianist, which obviously I am not. He then brought in his ‘Ghetto Blaster’ and played the backing track to the song, which sounded amazing, with the whole orchestra etc.. I told him that there’s no way that the piano and I can possibly replicate what he has on the recording, so maybe they should rather sing to the backing track. I’ll see what happens on Friday when we do the song again. Tonight I have a two hour rehearsal for another three of the songs, so we’ll see how that goes, and how many changes they want. As you may notice, I do hate the fact that they keep moving the goal posts.

WPC: Windows of a ‘Heavy Metal’ church.

I’ve decided to take a break from playing piano, in order to do the Weekly Photo Challenge. My fingers are crying out for a rest after pounding out the beat of ‘Tradition’ from Fiddler on the Roof, and ‘There is Nothing Like a Dame’ from South Pacific. When in Costa Rica at the end of last year, we visited the picturesque town of Grecia, known as “the cleanest town in Latin America.” Right next to a beautiful park full of shady trees, is a really interesting church. The ‘Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes’. (Our Lady of Mercy)

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This Gothic-style church is constructed of brick-red metal panels, which were fabricated in Belgium and shipped in 1892, as individual slabs to the port city of Limon, from where these heavy loads were transported, first by rail and then by ox wagon, across the rugged terrain from Alajuela to Grecia. After the original church in Grecia was gutted by fire, and its replacement, destroyed in an earthquake in 1888, it was decided to build an indestructible one, hence the fact that this is made entirely from steel.This iconic structure is a deep red hue, and as you can see, is adorned with very cute ‘gingerbread’ trim.

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The interior is so elegant, with many windows and 35 metre high ceilings, which make it really bright and airy.

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The magnificent hand painted blown glass windows were imported from Milan, Italy in 1911.

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I particularly loved this one,

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and these make such a lovely backdrop to the wonderful old pipe organ.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at my windows for the challenge. To see more entries, just click on the icon below.

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PS: Just in case you’re wondering how I’m getting on with learning the 9 songs for the concert, here is an update. My new Fitbit Force wristband which I got for Christmas, measures calories burned, as well as steps taken, distance walked etc.. I’ve discovered that playing ‘Tradition’ through once, actually burns 50 calories, so if I play it 100 times a day, I needn’t do any other exercise! This nifty little gadget also monitors my sleep pattern every night, and told me that on the night after the first practice, I woke up 32 times. Yes, I remember waking up numerous times with ‘Tradition!!’ stomping around in my head, and not being able to get back to sleep again. Last night however, I managed 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, so my worry gene is gradually taking a back seat. 🙂

‘Don’t Shoot the Piano Player’ for Ese’s Challenge

Ese’s ‘Shoot and Quote Challenge’ this week is “Music.”

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Just recently, I was reminded of this quote, “Don’t shoot the piano player; he’s doing the best he can.” I wondered about its origin, and found that it originated about 1860 in the ‘Wild West’ of the USA. Oscar Wilde saw it written on a sign in a Leadville, Colorado saloon, when he visited in 1882, and since then, it’s become a well known saying. I guess it was meaning that it wasn’t the pianist that was at fault, but the piano that was out of tune.

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Some of you may know that I play the piano, and this talent has landed me with some rather onerous tasks in the past. Just before Christmas, someone at our club decided that he would like to put on a Broadway-type musical production in May, and asked me if I would be good enough to play the songs.  I told him that I will be leaving to go back to South Africa at the end of February, so couldn’t help out. Not wanting to be thwarted, or deposed from his hobby horse, he then suggested we just do nine songs as a ‘showcase’ which could be ready to perform in the last week that I’m here. Auditions were held, and quite well attended. The enthusiastic singers are all in their 70’s to late 80’s, so you can imagine that the voices are somewhat past their best, but nevertheless it was decided that the show will go on. So, after having committed myself, I find that I have to not only find the music on the internet, legally down load it and learn it, but the guy whose idea the whole thing is, actually can’t read music at all, and wants me to do all the donkey work. I don’t want to disappoint these sweet people, who are so excited about the whole thing, so have hours and hours of practice sessions lined up, to try and get them ready for their paying audience on the 22nd February. Mr Organiser downloaded lyrics from various internet sites, in tiny print that you need a magnifying glass to read, and complete with all the strange ads that pop up when you visit these sites. He handed them out to everyone last night,  just before the first practice session, and when I came to play the songs, I found that what I had on my music, was not the same as what they were singing. What a nightmare! So now I have to sort that lot out too. Last night I kept waking up with my head full of  ‘Comedy Tonight’, ‘Magic to do’, and ‘Tradition’ from Fiddler on the Roof. I have 33 pages of music to learn before Monday, so I don’t think I’ll be around on the blogs very much, but will try to pop in if I have a free moment. Please wish me luck.

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Now I think I know what Duke Orsino in Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’, was getting at when he said, “If music be the food of love, play on; give me excess of it, that, surfeiting, the soul may sicken and so die……………..Enough; no more; tis not so sweet now as it was before.”

Cee’s FFC: Free and Easy

“Take time to do what makes your soul happy.” ~ anon

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge is ” all about state of being or emotions,” and this week’s theme is ‘Free and Easy’.

I got this great pic of my son and little Max having fun in the snow yesterday, and thought that it really fits the bill.

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In August last year, my darling mom-in-law turned 100 years old, and had such a fun party.

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I just love this pic of a guy in Cairns, who came every day to to the beach to feed the pelicans.

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These school children in Costa Rica, were so happy to entertain us with their traditional dancing.

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This morning, our resident anhinga popped his head up over the bank to show me what he’d just caught.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my ‘Free and Easy’ pics. To see more entries for Cee’s challenge, just click on the badge below.

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Ailsa’s Travel Theme: Possibility

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”Paulo Coelho

Ailsa’s Travel Theme for the beginning of the year, is ‘Possibility’, and I know that for me. life is always interesting when there is the possibility of  something exciting in the future.  As you might have guessed by now, I love to travel, although as I get older, it’s more about the destination than the journey. The frustration of  the long lines at airport security and immigration, have taken all the joy and glamour out of airline travel. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just make a wish, and be at our desired destination? This is me on Patong Beach, wishing it were possible to get from there to New York, without a long plane ride.

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Well, I did try, but landed up back on the same beach I took off from.

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Sometimes in life, we bite off more than we can chew. Do you think there is any possibility that this Great Blue Heron can get this huge fish down his gullet? Well, he tried his darnedest, but in the end, had to concede defeat.

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Until a few years ago, we wouldn’t have dreamed of the possibility of being able see our loved ones on the computer screen, as we chatted about this and that. Long live Skype!

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What is the possibilty of an eight-year -old princess being able to get inside a bubble? My granddaughter proved that it is indeed possible.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my pics for the challenge. To see more entries, visit Ailsa’s blog, here.


Thursday’s Windows, New York Christmas style.

It’s almost Twelfth Night, when according to tradition, all Christmas decorations must be taken down, so this ‘Thursday’s Lingering Windows’ challenge, is my last chance to show you more of the gorgeous Christmas windows in New York. We took our little granddaughters on the train to Penn Station, where our son met us after work.

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Then a yellow cab transported us uptown to see the beautifully decorated big tree.

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The 70 storey high Rockefeller Center looked spectacular against the night sky.

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We could see in the distance, the Empire State building, lit up in red and green, as we stood in line to view the famous Saks 5th Avenue holiday windows, which always draw the crowds.

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This year there was a mix of old-fashioned animatronics and state-of-the-art technology, and the windows followed the adventures of a young Yeti who leaves his family in Siberia to make it big as an artist in NYC. He moves to Queens and commutes by train to Manhattan, eventually winding up as the exclusive snowflake maker for Saks.

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What a great success story!

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We couldn’t leave to go home until we’d visited the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park, to watch the ice skating, and there was yet another gorgeous Christmas Tree.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing the last of my Christmas windows. To see more windows for this week’s challenge, visit ‘Dawn’s Lingering Look At Windows Week # 1’.

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Terrence the Turtle makes a dash for the ocean.

In November, whilst in Costa Rica, we visited Tortuguero (Land of Turtles) National Park, and felt so privileged to witness the amazing sight of newly hatched green sea turtles, as they came up out of their nest on the beach to see the world for the first time. It was just before sunset, and  there were quite a few, but hubby chose to video this sweet little creature as he bravely scuttled across the sand making a bee-line for the safety of the Pacific Ocean. It must have been quite tough  and rugged terrain for those tiny flippers to negotiate, but as you can see, his determination never wavered for a moment.  I thought this video was appropriate for today as we go into the New Year, not knowing exactly what lies ahead of us. May we all be as focused and fearless as little Terrence, as we strive to reach our goals this year.

This is my entry for the WordPress Photo Challenge, ‘Beginning’.

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